Melbourne: Toyota begins axing 350 jobs image

Toyota, the Japanese automaker has begun sacking 350 workers at its Melbourne plant amid heavy security. Toyota blames the job losses at its Altona assembly plant on the downturn in production levels and the strength of the Australian dollar.

Toyota spokesman Glenn Campbell confirmed this morning that sackings at the plant had started at 7am and would be completed by tomorrow night.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) official Charlie Marmara said today’s tactics employed by Toyota, including calling in security guards and transporting workers across the road in vans, were heavy-handed.

“For me personally (it’s) very difficult, for the people themselves very upsetting, a lot of people are uncertain now what the future holds for them,” he told reporters outside the Altona plant today.

Workers who were to be fired were escorted from their work stations on the production line to their lockers, where they were handed a bag in which to put their belongings. They were then taken over the road to the reception centre.

The federal government has offered assistance, including providing employment coordinators, to help the redundant workers find new jobs.

Mr Shorten, Workplace Relations Manager said workers could tell their children they did not lose their jobs because they did anything wrong but because of the high Australian dollar.

According to union figures, 262 workers are being arbitrarily sacked over two days and 88 had volunteered for redundancies.

A Toyota spokeswoman said the entire workforce was assessed and those with the lowest scores in behaviour, skills and knowledge were sacked.